HC Deb 24 April 1968 vol 763 cc218-9
45. Sir C. Osborne

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he twice refused the British Footwear Manuturers Federation's request that investment grants should be made available on knives, lasts and dies as sets, and not as individual items, since separately they cost under £25 each, and therefore do not qualify, whereas they represent 50 per cent. of the British footwear industry's expenditure on plant and machinery, and are always bought in sets.

Mr. Dell

The reasons for this decision have been fully explained to the Federation. These items are loose tools which are used individually and as such are subject to the minimum value rule.

Sir C. Osborne

In view of the fact that the industry has a very good export record and that it feels that there is a serious grievance here, would the President of the Board of Trade himself see a deputation from the Federation if I could arrange for one to visit him?

Mr. Dell

I am sure that my right hon. Friend would be willing to consider that. Meanwhile, the Federation's request has been brought to the attention of the Investment Grants Advisory Committee, which has been invited to report to the Board of Trade on the working of the minimum value rule.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

But is it not a fact that the High Court has declared that the minimum value rule was a misuse of the powers of the Board of Trade under the Act? What reactions has the President of the Board of Trade had to the judgment of the High Court in the British Oxygen case? Are they going to defy that judgment, as they have sought to defy other judgments?

Mr. Dell

I see that the hon. Gentleman, who is a lawyer, is very confident of the implications of that case for the general position. We have only just received the transcript of the judgment and are studying it, and we will consider its general implications.